Photo: Axios Screenshot

Health care systems must ensure that patients are not putting off in-person care due to fear of contracting coronavirus, Tuhina Neogi, chief of rheumatology and professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, said Wednesday during an Axios virtual event.

The big picture: The pandemic put patients severely behind in doctor's visits and their ability to manage chronic pain. Earlier in the year, patients were too afraid to seek treatment and were experiencing "diminishing quality of life" even in urgent instances, Neogi added.

  • "Health care systems are going to have to be nimble in making sure the safety of patients, health care providers, trainees, staff, etc., are all considered at the same time to ensure that we provide the care that’s needed for patients," she said.

The state of play: Hospitals have improved pre-screening patients for COVID-19 upon visiting and have enacted social distancing and hygiene protocols, but ramifications of managing chronic pain often affect those who systemically lack resources.

  • "[S]ystemic inequities have a higher proportion of chronic comorbidities, which themselves are accompanied by higher risk of chronic pain. Just historically people of color have had their pain less aggressively managed than people of white backgrounds," Neogi said.

Quick take: The coronavirus pandemic has been a trigger for those managing chronic pain, Randall Rutta, CEO and president of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, tells Axios' Mike Allen.

Photo: Axios screenshot
"These individuals are really stressed out [during the pandemic] and that stress in and of itself has exacerbated their pain and their conditions with autoimmune disease. So many conditions where people’s bodies are struggling against them in many respects."
— Rutta tells Axios

What to watch: Rutta said there are several non-opioid medicines are on the horizon to help patients with autoimmune diseases.

Watch the Axios event live.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2020 - World

Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million COVID-19 cases

Photo: Miquel Benitez/Getty Images

Spain exceeded 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, becoming the first country in Western Europe to hit the milestone, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The state of play: Spain, which reported 16,973 cases over the previous 24 hours, was one of the most affected countries when the pandemic started, and cases have been on the rise since September, according to NPR.

Oct 21, 2020 - Health

CDC changes "close contact" guidance for COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Noam Galai, Jamie McCarthy, Josep LAGO / AFP, Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP, and Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto, all via Getty Images

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its definition of who is considered a “close contact” of an individual infected with the coronavirus in a report released Wednesday.

Why it matters: The update is likely to pose challenges for schools, workplaces and other group settings as the U.S. prepares for a third coronavirus wave. It also reinforces the importance of masks in the face of President Trump’s repeated attempts to belittle their efficacy.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Oct 21, 2020 - Science

Biology is having its industrial revolution

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Bioscience research is undergoing a wave of automation and digitization, turning a manual, laborious practice into a true industry.

Why it matters: Biotechnology promises to revolutionize everything from medicine to energy, but for that to happen, the field needs to move out of the traditional lab and into something resembling a foundry. The growth of robotics and cloud-based remote research can help make that happen.